When and where: The Europa League Group A contest kicks-off from Anfield at 3.05 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available on FoxSoccer2Go.
Preview: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to keep his side’s recent positive run going as they take on Udinese in the Europa League on Thursday. Under the new regime at Anfield, Liverpool have begun to turn some good performances into results and have now claimed three victories from their last four outings in all competitions.
While the Europa League all too often appears to be seen as an unwelcome distraction for Premier League managers, Rodgers may owe much to the competition. It was the 5-3 victory in Switzerland against Young Boys that that finally saw the Reds start capitalizing on their neat play by finding the back of the net. It also perhaps persuaded Rodgers that he can trust in the young talent at the club.
Youngsters like right-back Andre Wisdom and Spanish midfielder Suso both played in Bern and have since been given their chance in the league. Indeed both started the 5-2 victory over Norwich on Saturday. With exciting Raheem Sterling also rewarding the manager’s faith this season, there is much cause for optimism for Liverpool fans.
Supporters are likely to get another look at some of the young talent on Thursday, with Rodgers again set to shuffle his pack in Europe.
Rodgers will be wary of making wholesale changes, however, against a dangerous Udinese side. So strong over the past two seasons, the Italians have not had the best of starts to this campaign, however. After the disappointment of missing out on the Champions League group stage with a playoff defeat for the second-straight year, Francesco Guidolin’s side have won just once in Serie A.
It may be that the club’s policy of repeatedly selling on their best players at huge profits has caught up with them this season. Having lost Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler in the summer of 2011, this close season saw the departures of influential trio Samir Handanovic, Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah. Still firing in the goals, though, is 34-year-old Antonio Di Natale.
D: Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Robinson
M: Henderson, Shelvey
Assaidi, Suso, Downing
D: Coda, Danilo, Benatia
M: Basta, Pereyra, Pinzi, Lazzari, Pasquale
F: Di Natale
Prediction: Much will depend on the team selection of both sides as to who will come out on top at Anfield. With Di Natale talking up the excitement at getting to play at Anfield, Guidolin may opt for a strong lineup, potentially making life very difficult for a likely understrength Liverpool.
Liverpool 1-1 Udinese